In the Readings for this Sunday, there is a distinct theme of ‘Rejoicing’ that the Promised One, the Messiah will come to God’s people at the right time in Human History.
The Prophet Isaiah outlined some of the signs that would distinguish the Messiah. ‘When he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unlock the ears of the deaf. The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will shout and sing’. (Isaiah 35:5-6) A time of rejoicing will begin! However, the looking forward to this God driven intervention will also cause great Joy and Hope among Israel. The Promised One will be the opposite of what many would call great! He will be a servant, a foot washer, a prince of peace, and one who embodies true humility, and is great in the eyes of God, especially in the manifestation par excellence, of God’s deep love for us through the Passion, Death and Resurrection. He will not issue in a politically motivated uprising against a foreign domination. In short, God’s Messiah will be unique as the unfolding face of God in History, and now in Mystery, and finally in Glory.
Let us briefly look at the people whom the world calls great. Many of them may be great, by any standards, but some may appear to have feet of clay, when compared to the standards of greatness proposed by Jesus. It takes true greatness to be able to forgive, to admit that “I am wrong,” to turn to another and ask for help. It takes true greatness to minister with great love those who, because of mental disability, or pride, are unable to say ‘thanks’. These angels of charity are the greatest people on earth. This week the world has been truly aware of real greatness in the life of Nelson Mandela, the embodiment of forgiveness towards others. A man full of joy who was prepared to wait!
If you were to write your own obituary notice, what are the things in your life that could deserve the term great, in that their value is eternal, and will continue long after your departure from this earth? Look again at the little people in your life, those who carry out the day-to-day humdrum services that keep life going all around you. Can you find any greatness among them? Begin with those closest to you, the ones you are more inclined to take for granted. It was Jesus who said that the prophet is never accepted in his own home. Jesus was grateful for what John the Baptist had done in preparing the way; he even said it while John was alive. I often wonder when I listen to Eulogies at Funerals, if the deceased person had ever heard in their lifetime the wonderful things that are said about them. Let us never put off speaking words of thanksgiving, praise or contrition to someone till tomorrow, because that tomorrow may never come!